. Make a Donation

Index Page
About The Author
Bible Quiz
Holy Day Calendar
Free Online Bibles
Bible Reading Plan

Quick Search the thousands of Bible studies on this website.
Just type in topic word(s) or a question.
Get Daily Bible Study on Facebook
Get Daily Bible Study on Twitter
Wednesday, May 30 2012

The Kinsfolk Of Jesus Of Nazareth

The English word "kinsfolk" may be defined as "people descended from a common ancestor," or simply "family" (the "kin" in king is based upon that same root word). The Holy Bible provides us with a surprising amount of information about the kinsfolk of Jesus of Nazareth during His human lifetime. As we will read in this study, His parents, brothers, sisters and some of His cousins are specifically identified by name.

While Joseph was not the father of Jesus, Joseph fulfilled the role of a human father to Him - and the Messiah obeyed the Fifth Commandment to "Honour thy father and thy mother" through Joseph and Mary i.e. "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (see below). Joseph was a righteous "just man" who was without doubt the best choice available.

We first read of Joseph when he was engaged to be married to a young virgin, who then found herself to be with child.

"1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily." (Matthew 1:18-29 KJV)

Joseph's "not willing to make her a public example" was more than just a concern that she would have been an outcast for the rest of her life. Mary may not have had a life because, in some areas, the death penalty was applied to those regarded guilty of fornication or adultery. Mary of course had done nothing wrong, as Joseph was told by "the angel of the Lord."


"1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord [see Appearances Of The LORD God] appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

1:22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matthew 1:20-23 KJV)

The Scriptures are very plain regarding what then happened: Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son." As we will read, Joseph and Mary, as normal human beings, had a completely natural family thereafter.

"1:24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." (Matthew 1:24-25 KJV)

Although they were then established residents of the north, in Galilee, the ancestry of Joseph and Mary was in the south, in Judea - specifically, in Bethlehem. After they were married ("espoused" means married), their firstborn arrived, in Bethlehem, just as Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem for the census (in effect, and perhaps literally, the Messiah had a Bethlehem "birth certificate").

"2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city [see also Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?].

2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem [see Why Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth And Capernaum?]; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7 KJV)

According to the instructions given to Joseph, the family sought refuge in Egypt until the death of Herod.

Flight To Egypt

"2:16 Then Herod [see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty], when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men [see Why Did The Magi Come?], was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children [see The Rachel Prophecies], and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matthew 2:16-18 KJV)

When Herod died, the family made their way back to Nazareth (the valuable gifts from the Magi likely provided the living for them, since Joseph was forced to leave his business in Nazareth for years).

"2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt [see The Flight Into Egypt], 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

2:21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:19-

The last mention of Joseph was during the incident in which the twelve year old Messiah remained in Jerusalem after Passover. Notice that the people that Joseph and Mary had travelled with from Galilee to Judea included "their kinsfolk." While we will read of some who are identified by name, Jesus of Nazareth had many other "kinsfolk."

"2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover [see The Harvest Prophecies and Calendar of Christ's Holy Days].

2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 2:43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 2:44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 2:45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 2:47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 2:48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? [see The Holy Place In History And Prophecy] 2:50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." (Luke 2:41-52 KJV)

The Nazareth Carpenter's Shop

As stated above, Joseph and Mary had other children, in the natural way, after the virgin birth of the Messiah. His brothers were named "James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas" (not to be confused with Judas the traitor; see Righteous Judas). He also had "sisters"; their names and number weren't recorded, but there were at least two.

"13:54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 13:56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 13:57 And they were offended in him.

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." (Matthew 13:54-57 KJV)

The Messiah's "a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house" was also something that He experienced in His own home, for "neither did his brethren believe in him" (while some claim that the "brethren" were the apostles or some of the other disciples, that cannot be true because, as well as the names not matching, they all did believe in Him - that's what made them His apostles and disciples).

"7:2 Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand [see What Did Jesus Christ Teach At Tabernacles?]. 7:3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 7:4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world. 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him." (John 7:2-5 KJV)

Notice very carefully that "his brethren" and "his disciples" are spoken of separately. His brothers did eventually come to realize that Jesus was the Messiah, but only later did they do so.

"2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum [see The Cities Of Lake Galilee], he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days." (John 2:11-12 KJV)

John The Baptist: "Behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son"

As explained above (as we will explain further below), the Messiah had kinsfolk in the north, in Galilee. He also had kinsfolk in the south (keeping in mind that that's where they were from too - the reason for the journey to Bethlehem where Jesus was born). Among them was a cousin of Mary, a righteous woman named Elizabeth, who was going to give birth to a cousin of Jesus who would become one of the most famous people of the Bible - John the Baptist.


"1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David [see A History Of Jerusalem: The City Of David] : 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

And the angel departed from her." (Luke 1:26-38 KJV)

After the announcement, Mary journeyed down to the Judean hill country where she remained with Elizabeth for a few months.

The Hills of Judea

"1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." (Luke 1:39-45 KJV)

After Mary had returned home (with her own pregnancy to attend to), John the Baptist was born to Mary's cousin Elizabeth.

"1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son." (Luke 1:56-57 KJV)

When Jesus was baptized, it was done by His cousin John.

"3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew

The Apostles James and John: "Salome ... His mother's sister"

Immediately after His baptism, the Messiah successfully endured the "temptation of Christ" (Matthew 4:1-11). The ministry of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for beginning of the Ministry of the Messiah. John was arrested not long after his baptism of Jesus, thereby bringing to an end that family connection to Christ's ministry. But another family connection to Christ's ministry then began; as we will see, at least two of the twelve apostles were first cousins of Jesus.

Fishermen On The Sea Of Galilee

"4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison [see John's Congregation], he departed into Galilee; 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him." (Matthew 4:12-22 KJV)

James and John are not immediately identified as cousins of Jesus. But consider the well-known incident when they came to Jesus with a special request. What made them think that they had some sort of a right to ask for favoritism? (keep in mind that royalty is based upon family i.e. kin, king).

"10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? 10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 10:38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 10:39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 10:40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. 10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John." (Mark 10:35-41 KJV)

As further detailed, by Matthew, their mother also came with them in the request. What made her think that she had some sort of a right to ask for favoritism? Again, keep in mind that royalty is based upon family i.e. kin, king.

"20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 20:21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." (Matthew 20:20-21 KJV)

As we will read below, the answer to how the apostles James and John were related to Jesus is found in the Biblically-stated relationship of the mother of James and John to the mother of Jesus - they were sisters, and therefore their children were first cousins.

The Crucifixion

Standing among the women near the cross with Jesus' mother Mary was Salome, who was Mary's sister, and therefore Jesus' aunt:

"19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25 KJV)

"15:40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 15:41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem." (Mark 15:40-41 KJV)

Note also that at least two of the women who came with Jesus from Galilee "and ministered unto him" were His mother Mary and His aunt Salome.

Who were Salome's children? The apostle James and John - who were therefore first cousins of Jesus. Among the people standing at the foot of the Cross that day were the Messiah's mother, an aunt and a cousin, the son of the aunt.

"4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them." (Matthew 4:21 KJV)

"27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children." (Matthew 27:56 KJV).

As he was about to die, Jesus commanded that His mother Mary (then obviously a widow, otherwise the command would not have been given) go to live with the apostle John. Mary then went to live with her nephew John, where her sister Salome was either already living (Christ's logic for the choice), or would be, according to the custom of kinsfolk taking care of their own.

"19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

19:26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 19:27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

19:28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 19:29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [see Giving Up The Ghost]." (John 19:25-30 KJV)

Fact Finder: In what ways were Jesus very similar to his cousin John the Baptist? How were they different?
See Jesus And John: Similarities And Differences

Bible Quiz Daily Bible Study Library
Thousands of Studies!

Jesus Christ
Bible History
Christian Living
Eternal Life
By The Book
Bible Places
The Spirit World

This Day In History, May 30

70: As prophesied by the Messiah about 40 years earlier (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?), Roman legions (see Legions Of Men And Angels) under the command of Titus Vespasianus (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots) breached the wall of Jerusalem.

1416: Jerome of Prague was burned as a heretic at the Council of Constance (convened by the Emperor Sigismund, and Antipope John XXIII; see The Struggle For The Papacy).

1498: Christopher Columbus left Spain with six ships on his third voyage of exploration to the New World.

1536: King Henry VIII married Jane Seymour, his third wife (who had been "a lady-in-waiting," in more ways than one, to his first two wives), 11 days after his second wife, Anne Boleyn (who Henry defied the Pope and created the Church of England to marry), was beheaded for alleged adultery.

1539: Hernando de Soto landed in Florida with 600 hundred soldiers in search of gold.

1631: La Gazette, the first newspaper of France, began publishing.

1832: The Rideau Canal, linking the Ottawa River at Ottawa (Canada's capital city) with Lake Ontario at Kingston, was opened to traffic.

1848: Under an end-of-war treaty signed in February 1848 and ratified on this day by Mexico, the U.S. took New Mexico and California as well as parts of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado from Mexico in return for the negligible sum $15 million.

1859: The bell known as "Big Ben" rang for the first time in London.

1876: The Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and replaced by his nephew Murat V (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1913: In a treaty signed in London to end the first Balkan War between the Balkan League (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro) and the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all of its European territory.

1942: 1,047 Royal Air Force bombers set off to bomb Cologne in the R.A.F.'s first "thousand plane raid" of the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1962: Adolph Eichmann, 56, Nazi war criminal, was hanged at the Ramla Prison in Israel after being found guilty of 1961 war crimes trial. Israeli agents captured and returned him from Argentina in 1960. His body was incinerated (just as were millions of holocaust victims that Eichmann and the other Nazis were responsible for; see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) and the ashes were dumped at sea.

1972: The Lod Airport Massacre in Tel Aviv by the "Japanese Red Army," on behalf of the "Popular Front For The Liberation of Palestine," killed 24 people and wounded 78.

1989: A 33-foot "Goddess of Democracy" statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

1998: 5,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in northern Afghanistan.


Copyright © Wayne Blank